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Last Updated: Monday, 22 January 2007, 15:16 GMT
Tories aim to scrap NHS targets
David Cameron
Mr Cameron said doctors should have more say over budgets
Conservative leader David Cameron has announced plans to scrap many of the government's health targets including those on waiting times.

Instead he outlined plans to set new objectives to measure the effectiveness of treatments and the health of patients afterwards.

He said doctors should have greater control over budgets and priorities.

Mr Cameron added that the quality of healthcare in the UK should "exceed the European average".

'Big change'

Mr Cameron said: "We will replace the national top-down targets that can distort clinical decisions with objectives that measure the overall benefit to patients."

He added: "We will put GPs in the driving seat by introducing proper commissioning so that the NHS is geared to the needs of patients, rather than the consequence of bureaucratic decision making."

Mr Cameron went on: "This is a big change in the way we look at health.

"Tony Blair's great pledge was to raise health spending in Britain to the European average.

"Our aim is different - we won't just concentrate on the money going in, but on what comes out as well. We want to raise health outcomes to exceed the European average.

"Outcomes like the survival rate for cancer, strokes and heart attacks. These are the real measures of good healthcare."

'Two-tier'

Former Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell, who heads the group which helped draw up the policy, said patients would benefit from the new targets.

"We have endless forms about process and insufficient focus on the health results that the NHS exists to deliver and it is that focus that we are seeking to shift away from process towards health outcomes," he said.

Dr Hamish Meldrum of the British Medical Association's GPs committee said he would welcome measures to assess how well patients are treated but added he wanted to know more about how the Conservative policy would work.

For Labour, health minister Andy Burnham said the plan "promises a return to long waiting times and a two-tier NHS".

He said: "The Tory plan to scrap targets that have made real improvements to our health service would turn the clock back to the NHS of ten years ago."

Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb MP said the Tory policy was "depressingly familiar".

He said: ?Under the last Tory government, giving some GPs total control over their budgets caused huge inequalities in the way NHS care was accessed. ?A vision of healthcare that fits the needs of local people can only be achieved if health services are accountable to their local communities. The patient voice is not an optional extra.?


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
A GP comments on the problems with targets



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